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Old January 22nd, 2006, 02:03 PM   #1
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Dull snow scenes

Hi, I have been shooting footage for possible b-roll and maby a commercial for our local ski hill. I shoot durring nice blue sky sunny days and lately my footage of skiers comming down the run with the sun over head has been lack luster, dull, unsaturated etc. I am shooting in manual with the nd filter on, f/2.8 at anywhere from 400-1200 sec shutter speed. The close up shots that fill the frame with mostly clothing, helmet, look great its just the shots with mostly snow they seem to lack sharpness and contrast. I shot last year and things looked great, this year not so great. Only thing I think I have changed is tape. I went from JVC Pro to Panasonic MQ. Is there an aperature that works better than another? How should I set exposure, if I expose for highlights its way dark. I have been using the zebra stripes, just not knowing exactly how much is OK. Thanks TAG
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Old January 22nd, 2006, 02:14 PM   #2
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Interesting. Have you tried the "Sand & Snow" format? I really can't see how a "tape" would make a difference. Tapes are for collecting the digital 1s and 0s. If the camera hasn't got hold of the visuals, the tape wouldn't know anything else!

The other thing you might wish to dabble with is a polariser to allow the camera to collect light from a shallower angle - rather than the wide angle that is flooding your lens. You say with the Sun over head. Last year did you shoot with the Sun at a lower angle? This might/would produce a bit more detail - yeah?

I have little snow experience, but when I did use my polariser I was very happy. Hoya do a circular polariser 58mm, quite cheap, so worth a little experimentation. This is how I started with filters.

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Old January 22nd, 2006, 02:57 PM   #3
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Just a thought but you could try turning the color gain up, might make it a bit more vibrant and bring things out a bit better on those long shots.

Alex B.
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Old January 23rd, 2006, 09:14 AM   #4
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Thanks guys for the replys, those are great ideas. I didnt mention I use a wd58 but I used that also last year. How about white ballance? All im using just like last year is the snow, I wonder if the sky color might have been different to cause the lack of color showing in the snow when ballancing?
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Old January 23rd, 2006, 12:03 PM   #5
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I think Graham's suggestion of a polarizer is great.

As for the lack of contrast and color, is it possible for you to do some correction in post? If that's the case, under-exposing on the shoot is best, as it would avoid blowing out the highlights. It might look lackluster in raw form, but you can play with the level settings in post to increase contrast, and maybe add a little saturation.

White balancing on the snow should be ok. Make sure the snow you use for white balance is not blowing out at 100% (use your zebra to make sure), because if you white balance on a 100% highlight, the result might be off.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 10:43 AM   #6
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Thanks Jean, I didnt know enough to pay close attention if the snow was blown out. That might be it. I'll try and see.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 12:18 PM   #7
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If you can shoot in manual mode on a tripod, you could also go for a double exposure technique if your software facilitates compositing.

Shoot exposing for the skiers, then stop down and up the shutter speed to expose for a nice blue sky.

If the camera is locked in place for the two shots it should be too hard to comp the two shots together to get a "best-of-both-worlds" final result.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 09:43 PM   #8
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Hi everyone, we just got back from Mammoth and the footage looked awesom. I think the problem was I set the white ballance while I had some zebra stripes showing. This time I just pointed the cam at the snow with the meter set to neutral and wa-la everything worked great. I am experementing with the level of zebra stripes but other than that things went great. Thanks for the help. TAG
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 02:12 AM   #9
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I for one really appreciate when a colleague gets back to us on the results. Makes offering-up ideas kinda worthwhile - yeah? So thanks for that.

Now please explain a bit more?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Lyons
I think the problem was I set the white ballance while I had some zebra stripes showing. TAG

. .and here you've thrown me . . ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Lyons
This time I just pointed the cam at the snow with the meter set to neutral and wa-la everything worked great. TAG
I rarely use Zebras and only for going shopping! Turns a few heads! Seriously, Zebs are an average out ACROSS the whole scene of a SPECIFIC highlight at the "%"'s - I tend now to only use the exposure range. PLUS I can almost tell what is high now.

I'm glad you're pleased with the outcome. Any chance to see a still? Would be neat to compare this year to last year, so I could actually "see" the improvement. Would help me.

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Old February 5th, 2006, 02:27 AM   #10
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Hi Grazie, your welcome and I too am thankfull for the opportunity to learn from others. I know you are always willing to offer.

Well the first quote, what I was trying to say is the problem of the dull snow scene was... I pointed the cam at the snow and with the exposure set to over expose (with alot of zebra stripes showing in the snow) I set the white ballance and by the way the camera didnt want to lock. You know how the custom wb simbol blinks and finally locks still. Well it took several times to set it and I guess that the reason is because the exposure meter was reading way far to the right. In the snow I over expose and use the zebra stripes for a visual of how much is over exposed. But what I learned was not to set the wb while over exposing.

The second quote meant that I found that if I white ballanced while pointing the cam at the snow and setting the exposure meter to read right in the middle than when I set the custom wb that gave great results. The snow scenes were bright and full of color. I hope that makes sense.

As for showing a still, I'm not really sure how to do that. Maby make and attachment? I havent done this yet I guess I better learn. Thanks again for the help, I sure appreciate it. TAG
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Old March 7th, 2006, 06:59 PM   #11
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Settings in Snow Conditions

I can second the issues you were having with the White Balance not wanting to set.

I shoot strictly extreme snowmobiling and this was/is a common problem. But as you found out, decreasing your overexposure will allow the camera to set the whitebalance.

I lend the camera out and have had to teach people how to run the cam in full manual. As a crash course on the fly, here is what we run...

1. ND Filter On (99% of the time it is required)
2. Set White Balance of Snow
3. Shutter Speed 1/60
4. Gain 0 (Gain = Grain)
5. Aperture to set the Zebras (sZebras et at 90) so they are visible is various areas but not saturated with them. If you see now zebras at all in a shot, chances are it will look somewhat dark on the screen.

This works great. I do bump the shutter speed into the 250 range and them adjust the aperture when I plan on tring some slow motion stuff. But have yet to try the slow motion editing with these settings.

We also have been running alot of frame mode this year and do like the results, the stuttering is more apparent in some shots than others though.

You can see some of our stuff mostly shot on GL2 in our latest video teaser on our site. www.sledporn.com Specifically our Sled Porn 4 teaser.

Most of our stuff is high action and we would like the ability to slow things down in post. So should we be using Frame Mode or steer clear of it? I just don't have enough expereince in post to know if we'll regret it come editing time this summer.

Thanks for the great forum...
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Old March 8th, 2006, 09:19 AM   #12
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Hi Rob, it sounds like we are doing about the same thing. As far as frame mode and slo motion, all I shoot in is frame mode and the slo mo seems to come out ok in premier except when you try to slow too much. If I keep it up above 30% it seems alright. Im sure if you shot in 60i and did some other things( I wouldnt know as all I use is frame mode) it would come out better but I dont want to fiddle with all that. I think frame mode looks great except in the pans it gets a little jerky but that doesnt bother me that much. Thanks for the reply. TAG
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Old March 8th, 2006, 11:08 AM   #13
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I do 90% of our slow-mo in Twixtor. It works great as plugin for Premiere although most use it in After Effects. It does an absolute great job, but you need to do the settings just right...it took me a couple years of use until I found the proper way to use it. From my experience, I do think the slo-mo is better when shot in 60i, but I have never ran 60i vs. Frame in the same shoot them tried to do slo-mo to comapre.

Frame mode with a shutter speed of 200 to 300 should produce great results, but I would not ever use Premiere for slo mo effects. It is great that the render time is extremely quick, but the end result from my experience is not nearly as smooth as Twixtor and Twixtor allows for time remapping which is awesome for fast to slow ramping of speed. Just need to wait out the long render times.
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